As contradictory as these two things seem to be, it’s possible to bring mindfulness to our many daily activities, so that we can carry them out without the usual physical and mental tension that tend to occur when we have a lot to do.
If you are a parent of young children, it’s likely that every day you have a significant list of tasks to undertake: get kids up, eat breakfast, prepare lunches, prepare self for work, travel to school then to work, carry out work... and so on. As we move between roles and tasks - specially if there isn’t much time in between (or we are engaging in the dreaded multi-tasking!) - we tend to keep thinking ahead to the next thing and the next, often imagining what is going to be involved, and this contributes to our tension. Tension also results from our mind and body trying to manage all our racing thoughts and constant physical movement. In conjunction with this, we’ll maybe experience an inner commentary that says things like “Oh no, not another red light” or “I wish the kids would be quiet for a bit” or “Damn, I forgot the toilet paper”. Result? We are not the calm, rational and centered person we would like to be.
At its simplest, mindfulness involves doing something with awareness or bringing your awareness to what you are doing. It’s the opposite of autopilot and reactivity. Therefore, the breakfast rush could include being aware (or noticing) that you are not tasting your coffee. The moment you become aware that you aren’t tasting it – you will begin to taste it! As you trot into kindy or school with your little one (with most of your attention on getting there on time) you might realise that you haven’t been appreciating the wonderful feel of their soft little hand in yours. While you are waiting at the traffic lights, notice how your shoulders feel. If they are tense, let them drop – another moment of mindfulness.
Even in the midst of busyness, moments of mindfulness are gold because our body relaxes a little and our mind softens too. Both of these help us to think more clearly and to keep current priorities where they need to be instead of mentally racing ahead of ourselves and becoming overwhelmed with what is still to do. One deliberate deep breath. One instant of appreciating something. One return to “Let me be present with this” is all it takes to begin to experience life – even a busy life - with a little more ease.
It used to be said “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but names will never hurt me”. Not anymore. Liz Weatherly says that psychology now advocates a very different approach because words are actually very powerful.
Liz says “Why do parents remind their kids to speak kindly? Because they instinctively know that derogatory and critical words really pull us down and demotivate us. They make us question our worth and our capability.” She suggests that anxiety and low self-esteem are directly correlated to how we are used to being spoken to and - even more importantly - how we habitually speak about or to our self.
After years supporting people to develop positivity, hope and self-appreciation, Liz has found that being aware of the language we use about ourselves and others is one of the most effective techniques for improving self- esteem, relationships and motivation in both children and adults. It helps us choose words that more accurately reflect what’s going on without diminishing anyone involved.
She shared some of her top tips for bringing mindfulness to how you speak:
They didn’t know it.
They thought they were teaching me how to be nice, polite and well- behaved. What they were actually teaching me was to be invisible, that my thoughts and feelings didn’t matter and that it wasn’t ok to stand up for myself.
“They” were my parents. They were 100% well-intentioned. They loved me and were doing their best based on their own experiences of life.
The problem with placing a lot of importance on being nice and polite is that there really isn’t room for “you” in your life.
Many of you who read this have “Empath” (aka highly sensitive to other people’s emotions) in your makeup or “type”. Have you identified this trait in yourself?
It’s taken me a long time and a lot of working on loving and trusting myself to get to grips with my empathetic streak and know how to incorporate it healthily into my life.
Most people talk about empathy from a “you feel what other people feel – what you need to do to protect yourself” point of view. But I want to take it a step more basic and share my wonderings about how lack of self-acceptance and self – valuing could result in the empath taking responsibility for the other person’s feelings as well. Empathy is a powerful, wonderful thing – it just doesn’t mix well with low self- esteem or habitual self – blame.
“Gratitude opened my eyes to a new way of seeing the world. By making gratitude a daily prayer: Thank you, life; Thank you, life I learned to trust in life again. I felt lovable again, and I began to see that life really does love me”
From Life Loves You by Louise Hay and Robert Holden
It came to me this week that some phrases get used so much that they start to lose their meaning. At the time I was doing an exercise about gratitude, and realised that I’d got into the habit of tuning out when I heard “attitude of gratitude” and “gratitude journal”.
You might think that’s a bit of a confession for a positivity coach, but I appreciate experiences like that because they get me thinking! They get me to think about what WOULD get me tuned in to really engaging actively in gratitude?
“Now is the time for women to break the barriers of self- limitation."
"You can be far more than you ever dreamed possible.”
From Empowering Women by Louise L. Hay
Happy International Women’s Day! 8 March is the day when we celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. This years’ theme is “Be Bold for Change”.
Hang about! Why would we need to be bold? And what would it look like? Isn’t that a bit out there???
The truth is, change usually feels freaky. It quite often requires courage – particularly when it comes to the roles that society gives us.
It’s a simple process and it doesn’t require any particular skill – just a desire to tune into your deep wisdom and desires, making an intention (conscious decision) to create a physical representation of these and a willingness to TRUST yourself (that the ideas that you come up with are able to become part of your life and not just some crazy pipe dreams!)
Funnily enough, that first vision board I ever made had two things on it that came to reality in incredibly specific ways within the next 3 years – an overseas trip and a beautiful teaching venue. Since then things that I’ve had in my visions that have subsequently become part of my life range from making wonderful new friends, getting a magazine – writing contract, selling my house for big profit in a ‘dead’ market and more than once I’ve had money arrive unexpectedly and in such a way that it was the perfect means to realise an item on my vision board. But, more importantly to me, I’ve had many personal growth aspirations on my vision boards and it’s been very cool to notice them become part of how I think and act and how much they have enhanced my day to day existence.
After breaking up with a girlfriend, one of my kids said sadly “I just don’t know how to be romantic”. This surprised me, as I had witnessed the genuinely thoughtful and loving ways in which they had engaged in nurturing the relationship.
This set me thinking about how we see “love” being expressed these days: the very public marriage proposals (choreographed months in advance, then posted on social media)… the gestures that involve surprise celebrity appearances… not one bunch of flowers but a room full…
I realise that the bar for what we call “love” seems to have been raised very high – impossibly high, or at least unsustainably high.
I’d heard people talking about making vision boards, but it wasn’t until quite a while after I’d got interested in (and been working on) getting my anxious, defensive, wobbly life sorted out that I first had a go myself.
Truthfully? I was a bit sceptical about their usefulness but it’s funny how I kept being drawn back to the idea over the years. Also funny that these days I’m encouraging and helping other people to make them because of the amazing experiences I’ve had with mine!
For me, a vision board isn’t just about some fun collaging, “when I’m a millionaire and running my own day spa in Bali” activity. Yes its fun. Yes I do let myself dream big. But two cool things happen when I make a vision board…
Bringing you articles and news.